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Best dog training tips

dog being trained by owner by the sea advice

Tips to train your pooch

© Shutterstock

Dog training is a life-long and rewarding process. You will need knowledge, empathy, and patience to reach success. But having a few easy dog training tips on hand can help you develop your skills as a trainer.

By G. John Cole

There are no shortcuts: training a dog requires discipline from you as well as your hound. Keep a few things in mind, and it will be a lot easier.

Dog training tip #1: Join the club

If you can afford it, joining a dog training club or class is about more than just teaching your dog to behave. You and your dog will learn directly from the advice given by professional dog trainers, but also by observing and interacting with other dogs and owners.

Additionally, spending time with a group like this can help you both to develop your social skills and make like-minded friends. It also gives you additional motivation to do your homework!

Give a couple of your local classes a call to see if you can ‘sit in’ for a lesson. That way you can find one that suits your pace and tone. You want to join a dog school that is science-based and uses positive reinforcement methods rather than coercive methods. You also need to be sure the class will be fun for you if you’re going to go out in the rain on a winter’s evening to take part.

Dog training in a group
Join the group and help your dog socialise! ©Shutterstock

Dog training tip #2: Be positive

You’ve probably heard of positive reinforcement training. This is the best way to teach your dog, and also to develop trust and love with him. It means rewarding your dog when he’s good, rather than punishing him when he’s bad.

Dogs don’t understand human language. When you reprimand him angrily he just gets confused and scared. You’re likely to end up with a dog who doesn’t trust you and also doesn’t behave, since he doesn’t know what he did wrong.

But dogs lap up praise and rewards. Give him a treat or a compliment when he gets something right, and he’ll soon start doing it for more.

Dog training tip #3: Choose your words

Don’t forget that English is your dog’s second language. If you keep changing your command words, he will get confused. Choose some words early on and keep using them so that he understands what is expected of him. Make your command words clear and distinct from each other.

That goes for his name, too. It can be tough to think up a name, but try to settle on something in the first few days. And use it properly: don’t be surprised if he doesn’t respond to your witty variations of it!

Dog training tip #4: Learn to speak

Your dog understands your tone of voice and emotions better than he understands your language. So not only should you be consistent with your command words, but you should learn to use them in a consistent and positive voice.

Dogs can also interpret your body language quite well. Be mindful of your dog's interpretation of it when interacting with him.

Dog training tip #5: Little and often

You will hold regular training sessions with your dog to teach him some of the basic commands: sitting, laying, waiting, walking, and of course, high-fives.

For both of your sakes, don’t let these sessions last an hour at a time. He will lose his concentration and you will lose your patience, which will only result in frustration on both sides.

Put aside 5-10 minutes several times a day instead of doing it all in one go.

Dog training Shiba Inu
Someone is happy to train ©Shutterstock

Dog training tip #6: It’s on you

As you’ll have noted, you’re the one doing the training. You want your dog to obey your rules, in your language, on your clock. So the responsibility is on you, and it’s important not to blame your dog when things go slowly. If you feel you are getting frustrated, take a breather.

Every dog is different. You need to do your research so you know how to train him and what to expect. But you also need to spend time with him and learn his ways.

Follow these tips as you train your dog, and you should both come out of the experience happier and brainier!